In June of 2000, I visited the Marian Sanctuary of Medjugorje (who in Croatian language means: "between mountains"), located in the Republic of Bosnia Herzegovina. Catholic village of hardly 400 inhabitants before the beginning of the Appearances of the Virgin Mary, today is a town in frank growth, visited by million of worldwide pilgrims. I wanted to know in direct form what was happening in that distant place of the ex-Yugoslavia Republic, nailed in the convulsion region of the Balkan Mountains, where one assumed that was appearing Mary since the last 19 years. I had listened of people healing, conversions, spiritual renovation, and so many things more. But a thing is to listen it and another one to live it.
The 24 of June of 1981, during the communist time, the Gospa ("Blessed Mother"), appeared to six young people of the place in a hill of the Podbrdo mount, today known as the mount of the Appearances. The young people were simple, children of farmers, and had between 10 and 17 years. The first time that they saw the luminous figure that it loaded a boy in her arms, they were scared, but they returned on the following day to the same place. Then, the woman that saw and to which they approached, appeared saying to them: "I am the Virgin Mary". The 26 of June gave them her first message: "I desire to be with you to reconcile and to convert the entire world". Soon, she said to one of the seers: " Peace, peace, peace and only peace! ¡The Peace between the man and God, and between the men must reign". Later, she would make reference to which would be transformed into her particular invocation in the place: " I am the Queen of Peace " (in Croatian, Kraljice Mira). From then, the six seers began to have daily appearances and to receive her messages, or in the hill or, once the communist authorities began to persecuted them, inside the parochial church of Santiago Apostle. They saw her in three-dimensional form, as one sees any person and established a real dialogue with her who could be extend by several minutes. At the moment of the Appearance, the seers fell in a state of supernatural ecstasy, difficult to explain for the scientists who have studied the case. Then, they could puncture them, push them, raise them, etc..., without they felt pain or annoyance some. And this can be verified still nowadays, since the seers continue having the same experiences. Three of them affirm to continue seeing the Gospa every day in the place where they are (Vicka, Ivan and Marija) and, the other three, once in the year (Mirjana, Ivanka and Jakov).
With the running of the years, the content of these messages was extending the scope of the parish and the pilgrims, to extend by the entire world. Since 1987, days 25 of each month (anniversary of the first time that She spoke to them), Marija is the official spokesman of the group. First, the Messages make a call to the conversion and the reconciliation, in other words to a radical change of life, inviting to the way of the sanctity proposed by Christ, to manage inner and outer peace and thus to be able to reach the eternal salvation. And secondly, proposes a series of concrete means to carry out it, among others: the monthly Confession, the Fasting twice in a week, the most frequent Eucharist, the Reading of the Bible, and, of course, the daily pray of the Saint Rosary. Means well-known, but somehow revitalized by the special presence of Mary in Medjugorje, inviting to a return to the value of the sacraments and the permanent pray. "Fortify your faith by the Pray and the Sacraments ", say one of the messages. The call of Mary is a direct message to the heart. " Open your heart ". " Pray with your heart ". " There is no sense if you pray for the peace of the world, if you do not have peace in your hearts ". Therefore, without and open heart, is very hard to appreciated this call of Mary in its depth or, at least, listen them. "It is not possible to explain the messages. It is during the pray as we will understand better ", says Gospa to the seers.
The Vatican, as it is logical in these cases (especially considering the extension without precedents of the Appearances and the nature of the Messages), although has not been sent formally on the individual, it is not against the private peregrinations and is well known that hundreds of worldwide Bishops, priests and religious with consecrated life, have passed by the place along with more than twenty million pilgrims of different races and creeds. Until one knows that its Sanctity John Paul II, speaking unofficially, has encouraged to many with respect to the events of Medjugorje. In spite of the bishop of the place continues being obstinate regarding the events of Medjugorje, seemed to exist a positive consensus within the Church with respect to these " private revelations " and to the sensus fidelium of the pilgrims who visit the Sanctuary.
Concerning the figure and face of the Virgin whom the seers affirm to see, have been made diverse artistic proves to reproduce she in pictures and sculptures (with greater or smaller acceptance from the referring ones). Although the image that has extended worldwide corresponds to the one of an Immaculate which it is in the parish of the Franciscan father Jozo Zovko (fervent defender of the seers, reason why was jailed and tortured by the Communists) in the locality of Tihaljina, few kilometers of Medjugorje.
Up to here, which I can say in a brief synthesis of the events, so as I analyzed them before and during my trip. It was evident that in the substantial thing, they allowed to draw up certain parallelism with other cases of Marian appearances: Guadeloupe, Lourdes, Fatima, etc... the Virgin chose simple people, preferably young and she appeared to them in retired places, first she presented herself and then give them some message or intention to be transmit to the community. " I praise you, Father, Gentleman of the sky and of the earth, because being hidden these things to the prudent wise people, and you have revealed them to the simple ones ", says Jesus Christ, confirming this type of selection of Mary. Thing which I could verify personally when I meet Vicka, or listening Ivan. The seers are simple people of the town, totally normal, that, excepting Vicka, they have formed his own family. And although today they are " famous " wherever they go, they continue giving their testimony and carrying the messages, without shows nor arrogance. Blessed by this special election, but simultaneously loading a great responsibility. " It is not easy to be every day with the Gospa and then return to the daily world ", said Ivan to us. But beyond the attraction and curiosity that could wake up the seers, this was not the important thing of Medjugorje, at least for me. Other questions left to my encounter. Why during as much time? Why in Medjugorje? What necessity of messages from Mary, if everything already has been revealed? Father Slavko Barbaric (recently passed away in the Krizevac mount), to the first question he answered to me: " Because Mary wants it ", and to the second: " Because she needs two mounts and a church for the opening of her School of Pray, and Medjugorje had them ". In a word, it said to me in a likeable way: Why not? " The important thing is not the place, but to live the message of peace and love", he added. " Of course that is question of faith and the faith comes us by the good will of God".